Best Ice Fishing Rods and Why

best ice fishing rods

Looking for the best ice fishing rods? You’re in the right spot.

Ice fishing rods present a unique problem for anglers. They must be light to moderate action, but able to handle reels that can hold heavy monofilament line or braided line in strengths up to 30-pound test size.

They usually vary in length from 24 to 42 inches, but some ice fishermen prefer 18-inch rods, and others just take their spinning or baitcasting rod and reel that they use in open water out on the ice.

Open water rods are designed to cast long distances, with great accuracy. They are matched with reels that can crank in bait rapidly or slowly depending on the species.

None of that is important in an ice fishing rod since you’ll only be jigging through a stationary hole with the rod. There won’t be any casts, variable retrieves, or any of the other challenges that open water presents.

There will be challenges of a different sort, however. An ice fishing rod must maintain its strength, integrity, and durability in a wide range of climate conditions. While most of the time you’ll be on the ice in temperatures between 0 and 45 degrees, there are times, especially at night in the northern latitudes where the temperature can drop to 30, 40, or even 50 below zero.

Select a rod without cold resistance and it might just splinter in your hand when the big one hits.

A visible rod tip is important as well. The blinding glare off clear ice on a sunny cloudless day can make seeing your tip a challenge. With heavy gloves or if your hands are slightly numb from the cold you can’t feel the light bite of a walleye or perch, but you can see your rod tip move if it’s visible.

The same is true on dark nights when the glow of your headlamp may be the only light available. A reflective rod tip is beneficial in these settings.

Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll have no problem selecting the best ice fishing rods for your ice angling arsenal.

What is the Best Ice Fishing Rod?

The highest-rated ice fishing rod comes from 13 Fishing. It is the Tickle Stick in 27-inch length, medium strength.

Our Pick
13 FISHING Tickle Stick Ice Fishing Rod
$49.99

Built of PC2 tip-blank construction it comes with a high visibility tip. The visibility of the tip of a rod isn’t that important on open water, but when the rod is white, set against the often blinding glare coming off the ice a visible tip is important on an ultra-light or light rod.

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12/03/2021 03:25 am GMT

The Tickle Stick is light, has large rod guides, is made in white, and comes in a standard white color.

On the market for just over a year, it has taken the ice fishing world by storm.

Full List of Best Ice Fishing Rods

Our Pick
13 FISHING Tickle Stick Ice Fishing Rod
$49.99

Built of PC2 tip-blank construction it comes with a high visibility tip. The visibility of the tip of a rod isn’t that important on open water, but when the rod is white, set against the often blinding glare coming off the ice a visible tip is important on an ultra-light or light rod.

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12/03/2021 03:25 am GMT
Green Hornet Ice Fishing Pole
$49.99

Our second-place pole is top-rated for nostalgia and as a conversation starter. While its unusual design lends it to hanging on the den wall or above the fireplace, this rod is great on the water.

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12/03/2021 03:14 am GMT
St. Croix Rods Legend Black Ice Fishing Rod
$74.99

St. Croix has a solid product for the series ice angle, but at a slightly higher price than you’ll find with other models. Most ice fishing equipment is tossed into five-gallon buckets, loaded on a sled, and dragged to a favorite fishing spot.

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12/03/2021 03:24 am GMT
Berkley Cherrywood HD Ice Fishing Spinning Rod

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money and are one of those anglers who switch their spinning reel from a longer, open water rod to an ice fishing setup, this rod is for you.

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KastKing Konvert Twin Tip Ice Fishing Rods
$29.99

This rod offers a unique design not found in the other rods reviewed here. KastKing took the concept of interchangeable barrels, common among waterfowl hunters with their shotguns, and brought it to the ice fishing arena.

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12/03/2021 03:22 am GMT
HT Enterprise Ice Blue Super Flex Rod
$21.49

The Ice Blue is a venerable rod that’s been around almost two decades. HT Enterprise isn’t an easily recognizable manufacturer but they produce a quality rod.

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12/03/2021 03:29 am GMT
BESPORTBLE Telescopic Fishing Pole Ultra-Light Ice Fishing Rod
$9.69

There are advantages and disadvantages to a telescoping rod. The advantage is obvious if you’ve ever had to walk a mile or so to your favorite spot on the ice. When reduced to its shortest length this rod transports very easily.

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12/03/2021 03:27 am GMT
Fenwick Eagle Ice Fishing Spinning Rod
$29.95

Fenwick is a recognized market leader in all aspects of fishing. They offer a moderately priced rod with the quality, and full features Fenwick is renowned for.

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12/03/2021 03:26 am GMT
Fenwick HMG Ice Fishing Spinning Rod
$38.07

The HMG is designed to fit the needs of almost every ice angler. Available in lengths from 26 to 30 inches and power ratings in medium-light, medium, and medium-heavy this versatile rod will adapt to almost any ice fishing venue.

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How Did We Rate the Best Ice Fishing Rods?

Strength over a wide range of temperatures is the first criterion. Other factors are the materials used, the quality of the line guides, the type of inserts in those line guides, the handle material, the handle design, and the reel seat. A rod tip designed to reduce or eliminate ice buildup during use is important as well.

Many ice fishermen make their own rods. They take a natural willow, oak, or gum branch then cut it to length, drill a mounting hole for a graphite rod blank to fit inside, epoxy the attached area, tie on a few line guides and a rod tip, and call it good.

These make great decorations, they’re often family heirlooms, but they can’t compete with commercially designed ice fishing rods.

Best Ice Fishing Rods Reviewed

1. 13 FISHING – Tickle Stick

Variety is the overall consideration when choosing our top-rated Tickle Stick. The rod is available in lengths from 23 inches to 38 inches, with power ratings from ultra-light to medium-light.

Built of PC2 tip-blank construction it comes with a high visibility tip. The visibility of the tip of a rod isn’t that important on open water, but when the rod is white, set against the often blinding glare coming off the ice a visible tip is important on an ultra-light or light rod.

When ice fishing in extreme cold, you can’t feel the action of a rod-like you can in warm water settings. Seeing the tip before feeling the fish through a pair of gloves is often the first indicator of a strike.

The reel seat is set against a handle of natural Portuguese cork and the line guides are made of ALPS thin wire.

The rod comes in three models, the Tickle Stick Tip, the Larger Tip, and the Hole Hopper. Within those three models, you can select from seven different lengths and power ratings.

The rod weighs a substantial 10 ounces and comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.

2. Green Hornet Ice Fishing Pole

Our second-place pole is top-rated for nostalgia and as a conversation starter. Ice fishermen are sometimes prone to a bit of whimsy and the high rating of this unusual rod is clear evidence.

The Green Hornet is a custom-made rod by the Green Hornet Company of Minnesota. It is an exact replica of the “Green Hornet” pole used by actor Walter Matthau in the film “Grumpy Old Men.”

The famous line from the film, “The Green Hornet’s caught more fish than you’ve lied about!” is the marketing motto for this unique rod.

The Green Hornet is often purchased by family members for the angler who already has everything.

While its unusual design lends it to hanging on the den wall or above the fireplace, this rod is great on the water.

The handle is easy to grip and the light power rod is perfect for presenting jigs or waxworms to hungry fish just below the ice.

If there was a rating for the number one art piece to adorn the walls of an ice shack, the Green Hornet gets the top spot.

3. St. Croix Rods Legend Black Ice Fishing Rod

St. Croix has a solid product for the series ice angle, but at a slightly higher price than you’ll find with other models. Most ice fishing equipment is tossed into five-gallon buckets, loaded on a sled, and dragged to a favorite fishing spot.

This serious, moderately priced rod might be better served if treated as an open water rod should be.

With split grips, a shiny black finish, and available in 24 or 30-inch models, this is a great rod for long days on the ice.

The rod offers an adjustable/interchangeable spring indicator system, a feature unique to St. Croix that offers built-in strike indication.

The indicator rests on the end of the rod, just beyond the rod tip, and is tensioned by a black, anodized steel spring that is much more sensitive than feeling the strike through the rod by itself.

The indicator acts as a tip-up in your hand. With traditional tip-ups, a strike releases a pin that sets the hook when the tip-up pops loose pulling the line in enough to catch the fish.

This system while jigging is an extremely effective combination for catching even the lightest striking fish.

The Legend is made of precision tapered solid carbon blanks that offer both sensitivity and strength over a wide range of temperatures.

The stainless steel guides with black anodized frames and rings provide good line control, even when the air is so cold the water freezes instantly as the line is retrieved.

The rod is very light at just 5.6 ounces in the 24-inch model and arrives with the high-quality reel seat that all St. Croix rods carry.

4. Fiblink Graphite Ice Fishing Rod

If you’re after walleye, crappie, perch, or even rainbow trout through the ice, this rod by Fiblink comes highly rated.

The graphite rod is connected to a cork handle with a stainless steel set ring over a high-density graphite rod seat.

It comes with a full one-year warranty that offers a money-back guarantee for any problem.

The 24-inch model weighs just 2.2 ounces with a medium-light power rating.

The 30-inch style rod is slightly heavier at 2.3 ounces in medium power. The 32 inches is also rated as medium-heavy but still has an amazingly lightweight of just 2.4 ounces.

These rods are designed for light-biting fish like walleye, crappie, and perch. You’ll catch more nibblers with this rod hooked to a nightcrawler, waxworm, or minnow than with any other.

They’re not designed for heavy jigging and if you’re after a heavier, hard-hitting rainbow trout you might want to look elsewhere.

These rods will sometimes snap with a five-pound or heavier rainbow battling on the other end of the line.

5.  Berkley Cherrywood HD Ice Fishing Spinning Rod

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money and are one of those anglers who switch their spinning reel from a longer, open water rod to an ice fishing setup, this rod is for you.

Available in 24 and 26-inch models that come in ultra-light and medium-light power, this rod is designed for spinning reels only.

The 100% fiberglass blank rod is durable, strong, and handles the rigors of cold temperatures well.

It comes with a full cork handle, a sliding ring reel seat, and stainless steel guides and inserts.

There are only two line guides and the tip on this rod which can create more strain on the lighter line.

6. KastKing Konvert Twin Tip Ice Fishing Rods

This rod offers a unique design not found in the other rods reviewed here. KastKing took the concept of interchangeable barrels, common among waterfowl hunters with their shotguns, and brought it to the ice fishing arena.

The Konvert comes in a two-piece design with a cork base and a pair of interchangeable upper rod sections. One section is rated at medium and the other at medium-light.

The ability to switch barrels (so to speak) offers more versatility with different species of fish.

A lighter power rod works well for walleye, perch, and crappie, while the medium-power rod can handle hard strikes by rainbow or lake trout and has the power to haul up heavy ling from the lake bottom.

Built of durable fiberglass with a pencil grip cork handle, both of these rod ends slide securely into the base section even in subzero temperatures.

They have a high visibility orange strike tip that works equally well in bright sunlight or on moonless nights when only the lights on the horizon or the glow of a nearby lantern illuminate the action.

The rod arrives with its own storage case in a travel tube style. The tube is just 17 inches long and 1 ½ inch wide, making it small enough to carry inside a backpack as you walk to your favorite spot on the ice.

7. HT Enterprise IB-18 18 Ice Blue Super Flex Rod

The Ice Blue is a venerable rod that’s been around almost two decades. HT Enterprise isn’t an easily recognizable manufacturer but they produce a quality rod.

This rod features a fast action fluorescent orange tip that aids in spotting movement whether in broad daylight or under the flickering stars with just a hint of visible light.

The rod is on the shorter end of the spectrum as just 18 inches and is the lightest one featured here weighing in at less than two ounces.

Dark blue custom wrapped grips, and a synthetic Corkalon handle with steel attachment rings for easy reel mounting are all popular features.

The rod comes in medium-action power only.

The advantage of this rod is its middle-of-the-road handle, rod tip and action all rolled into an inexpensive design.

The 18-inch length is perfect for transport across the ice and fits neatly in a five-gallon bucket.

The price is a big attraction as well with this being one of the least expensive rods in our survey.

8. Besportble Telescopic Fishing Pole Ultra-Light Ice Fishing Rod

There are advantages and disadvantages to a telescoping rod. The advantage is obvious if you’ve ever had to walk a mile or so to your favorite spot on the ice. When reduced to its shortest length this rod transports very easily.

The disadvantage comes in the quality and strength of the telescoping feature. By design, the rod has to be hollow to allow it to the telescope. A hollow rod, no matter the design is weaker than a solid, one-piece rod.

The lightweight design and telescoping feature make this a unique model in these reviews. It comes with a durable reel seat design.

The rod is just over 10 inches when retracted and extends to 18 inches.

New to the market with a release in March of 2020, it gained popularity in the single-season it’s been in action.

Weighing 2.6 ounces it is a compact design.

If multiple, easy-to-transport rods at a very low cost are what you’re after, this is a rod worth exploring.

9. Fenwick Eagle Ice Fishing Spinning Rod Black

Fenwick is a recognized market leader in all aspects of fishing. They offer a moderately priced rod with the quality, and full features Fenwick is renowned for.

The Eagle is a 30-inch rod in light power with a natural cork handle.

The solid carbon blank offers increased sensitivity and strength. An ergometric reel seat design places your favorite reel in easy access.

The stainless steel line guides have aluminum oxide inserts to keep the line flowing smoothly even when the ice builds up in very cold weather.

10. Fenwick HMG Ice Fishing Spinning Rod

Our final rod in this review is another Fenwick. The HMG is designed to fit the needs of almost every ice angler. Available in lengths from 26 to 30 inches and power ratings in medium-light, medium, and medium-heavy this versatile rod will adapt to almost any ice fishing venue.

Built of solid carbon blanks, with Fenwick’s ergonomic real seat, this is a quality rod.

The quality comes at a slightly higher price, but the features make it work the cost if you’re after a durable rod to take for jigging while you watch your tip-up array.

Conclusion

best rods for ice fishing

Ice fishing presents challenges that warmer climate anglers never face. The rod that works so well in Georgia on a hot afternoon in pursuit of largemouth bass may snap in 40 below zero weather on a January afternoon in Northern Minnesota.

The action on ice fishing rods is unique to the sport. The preferable range of ultra-light to a maximum of medium-heavy power has long been established as the best setting for sensing and hooking the often light striking fish in very cold water.

Longer traditional rods with work through an ice fishing hole but they are difficult to handle and even at short lengths of six feet, they are difficult to maneuver.

If you’re fishing from an ice hut, anything beyond a 30-inch rod becomes difficult to manage, even in some of the ice fishing “mansions” that get towed onto lakes in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and New York.

Ice fishing is a unique adventure, and it requires unique equipment.

You have a good list of rods to look at in the reviews above. Selecting the one that fits your style of fishing, and that is ergonomically fitted to you doesn’t have to be a challenge.

Just do your research, try out a few rods at your local sporting goods store and buy the one that fits your budget.

Then get out on the ice and catch a few fish.

For more guidance on choosing ice fishing gear and how to get started check out the pages below: